Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
By EDITOR CRAIG
(Reprint from "The American Forest," October, 19 53, with permission)
Cumberland, Maryland—the western terminus of the historic C & O Canal—was once described by Jascha Heifetz as "the most Old World of all New World cities." Just what analogy the travelled violinist had in mind is a matter of conjecture. But as seen from attractive Constitution Park, a municipal playground on a hilltop, the city lies nestled among verdant hills at the junction of the Potomac and Wills Creek—and not unlike a Danube Valley town. It is a city of beautiful churches, their spires providing serenity and uplift to the valley panorama. Red brick predominates in the city's color scheme. When shadows start to lengthen on sunny afternoons the dull red of the monastery and buildings in the old part of town reflect a burnished rose glow that bathes the whole city in soft, evanescent colors.
Cumberland, in fact all western Maryland, combines a rich historical heritage with some of the most picturesque mountain scenery in the East. It was from Fort Cumberland, site of the present Episcopal Church, that General Braddock set out on his tragic march against the French. The hotel from which a famous Union general was snatched by Johnny Rebs from under the very noses of the Union Army is still in operation. Further afield, the quiet towns, sparkling lakes, swift trout streams and beautiful state parks of nearby Garrett County are all justly celebrated. Moreover, the Garrett citizenry boasts of her ski slopes and some of the best maple-sugar producing country in the nation.
Friendly people and proud of their region, many western Marylanders for years have looked hopefully to the neglected C & O Canal between Washington, D. C, and the Queen City as a potential parkway that would bring more visitors to their country. Despite the fact the canal was purchased by the government and turned over to the National Park Service in 1938, little has been done to keep it up. The Marylanders think this is a shame for the 186-mile waterway played a key part in the region's development. At the peak of the canal era in 1871, over 500 barges were hauling upwards of 900,000 tons of coal, lumber and other shipping from the tristate region of Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, every year. Then the railroads gained the ascendency and the nation's inland waterways went into an eclipse. And the C & O, buffeted by periodic Potomac floods and general neglect, has been deteriorating ever since.
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland
22 x 15 cms
Editor: Felix G. Robinson